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The Interceptors: Issue #0

Dr Archeville

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Date: Mid-October, 2009

Flowing down from Lantern Hill toward Greenbank is the West End of Freedom City. The West End was originally a number of small ethnic communities settled around the end of the 19th century. Today, they have blended together into an overall community, although pockets of the original cultures can still be found, along with a number of newcomers to the area.

It’s a boisterous, mostly lower middle-class, area. Row houses and apartment buildings are common, along with garden-style apartments with common courtyards. Due to cheap housing in its infancy, the West End became home to Irish, Italian, Greek, and Jewish immigrants. African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians followed in later years. The West End features the best ethnic restaurants in the city, particularly delis and pizza places.

Unfortunately, the West End still sees a fair amount of crime, particularly from gangs, and organized crime retains a stronghold here, despite the best efforts of the FCPD. Culturally, the West End is squeezed in between Parkside and the new developments like Ashton. This leaves the area with little room to grow, and some feel Freedom City’s growth will eventually mean the end of the older neighborhoods as they’re torn down to make way for new developments.

Seven people from all over Freedom City had been called here, their vast differences a mirror (of sorts) to the differences in the numerous cultures which called the West End home. But those peoples had lived and worked together in harmony (or at least a reasonable semblance of it) for decades -- would the same happen to these seven? Would they work together, and form something greater than the sum of the parts?

As they approached the trio of brownstones along 83rd Avenue, they thought about how they got to be there in the first place....

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----------- Nadia's Apartment ----------------------------

Nadia sat on the woven mat covering the rough planked floor of her apartment. Her legs were crossed in front of her and her posture was relaxed, in complete juxtaposition of the raging chaos that seethed inside her. A few weeks ago, she knew her place in both life and this city. She had 'employment' and a steady stream of high paying jobs that offered her the kind of excitement that she craved. Yet one bad decision... or good depending on which side of the fence you were on... removed all of that. Her employers now had a mark on her head, and there was an endless stream of brash young punks who would like nothing more than collect it.

"Morality certainly has its price," she thought to herself while reflecting on the state of her life.

As she settled back into her meditation, a harsh buzzing noise filled the small cramped space. It took her a long moment to recognize it for what it was; the doorbell. Reacting quickly, she sprang to her feet, convinced that no good could come to someone who had tracked her back to her home. He father would never give her away, and no one else knew the location. That left bounty hunters or cops, both a real threat to her current situation.

The bell rang again, persistent and demanding.

She could port away, and be gone before they could make it beyond the entrance hall. However, Nadia was not the sort of person who often ran. Instead, she pulled on a tight black tank top and moved quietly to the door. She wouldn't give them enough time to get their bearings, regardless of who was there. Grabbing the rusted metal handle, she closed her eyes for a moment, gathering herself for whatever lay beyond. Crouching on the balls of her feet, she pushed the door open and stepped out into the hall in one swift motion.

"Good even..." a man spoke as the door opened. He paused looking at her curiously, shrugged and continued, "evening Mrs. Batalova. I have a delivery for you."

"I didn't order anything," Nadia said, noticing that the man carried no obvious weapons. "Go away."

"No, this isn't a sales pitch," the man said chuckling. "You know, certified mail? Couriers?

Perhaps the dumbfounded look her face made him press a bit further, "You have a letter. I need you to take it and sign here please."

Nadia frowned, trying to figure out what the angle on the letter was. Coming up with nothing, she signed the waiver and watched the overly cheerful courier head back down the hallway. In her hand was a medium sized manila envelope. What it was, or who had sent it was a complete mystery. One that was solved shortly after it was opened and the contents read.

--------------- Brownstone House, West End ------------------------------------

She had been watching the place for several hours now. Beyond a few people coming and going there didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary about it. She could still blink out of here. Be across town shortly and catch a bus to anywhere else. Her life could start over and this time she could do things right. There was no compelling reason to walk into this potential trap. Nothing other than her burning curiosity. The letter had spoken of a gathering of heroes, an outfit built to handle some of the crimes that plagued the city. More important, it offered steady pay and government backing. There had even been hints of cleaning her record up.

All of which was quite appealing, which was why it was too good to be true.

Yet somehow the letter's author had found her. Which meant that somewhere along the line she had gotten careless. The location was now compromised and she would not go back there any time soon. Given the alternatives, she needed to just head in there. Take the chance and gamble on the one in a million deal. Regardless, she wasn't doing herself any favors by siting outside on this cold October afternoon. Standing up, she smoothed her clothes and walked over to the brownstone.

Knocking on the door, she hoped that it was legit.

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The West End, the prior evening...

Jack of all Blades used his foot to roll the unconscious burglar over on to his back, making sure the man hadn't received any serious cuts while flying out through the window he himself had broken to gain entry to the small electronics store. The swashbuckler shook his head and used the electricity sparking from a damaged DVD player to form a crackling blade of energy. As a few quick flicks of the wrist cut the hero's calling card into the criminal's shirt, Jack was startled by slow applause coming from behind him. Rounding in an instant, sword at the ready, he was chagrined to find it was only a television set in the store's window, displaying what looked like a gregarious talk show host.

"Well, that's a little embarrassing," Jack muttered to himself, standing up straight.

"On the contrary, Jack, that was one heckuva performance!" the man of the screen proclaimed enthusiastically.

The swordsman blinked. After a long pause, he gravely intoned, "Alright, level with me. Is this some sorta power-fueled dementia? 'Cause the whole 'energy sense' thing always made be a little nervous, getting in my head and all."

The host laughed heartily. "I tell ya, Jack, you're a real card! Hey oh!" He pointed to someone off screen and a rim shot sounded. "But seriously, you're not crazy." Placing a hand beside his mouth, he continued in a stage whisper, "At least not crazier than other guy running around in a mask and tights, am I right?" The host guffawed along with a laugh track.

Jack looked down at his pants briefly. "They're not actually-- No, you know what? Forget it. What's your deal, pal?"

The man of the screen tapped his finger to his nose then pointed to Jack. "See? Right there. You're quick. I am your pal, and I do have a deal for you!" The host picked up an envelope from his desk and held it to his forehead. "To protect the West End, to meet other super guys and gals and to put his little sis through med school!" He opened the envelope and read the piece of paper inside. "'Things Jack of all Blades wants to do!'" Canned applause came from the hypothetical audience, and the host gave a small bow.

Jack took a step towards the television set. "What do you know about my sister?" he asked in a humourless tone, his jaw set dangerously.

The host raised his hands. "Easy killer! All will be revealed! Just head to the address below tomorrow and get ready for the offer of a lifetime!" As a street address scrolled across the bottom of the screen, the host pointed off screen again, and a guitar and saxophone lick flared from the television. "Good night, folks!" the host cried, tossing his cue cards over his shoulder. With that, the screen shut itself off, leaving a bewildered Jack standing over a groaning burglar. The swashbuckler even stop staring at the television as he gave the thief a swift kick back into unconsciousness.

83rd Avenue, brownstone apartments...

As Jack slid down the drain pipe of the building across the street from the one the address had specified, he spotted a dark haired woman approaching the apartment. With surprise he realized he recognized her from the Leon Mighty's training session in Wharton State Forest. Removing his lighter from his pocket, he rolled it in his palm, but held off on summoning a sword of fire. Shoving his hands into the pockets of his greatcoat, he followed her across the street to the front door.

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Earlier that day

The key scraped in the lock, and the tumblers tumbled. It was the satisfying sound of coming home at the end of a long day. And a long day it was indeed. The door creaked open, and Billy removed the key from the lock, slipping it into one of his many coat pockets. He dropped the cigar he had been smoking out of his mouth, and ground it underneath the heel of his boot. There it lay, a smoldering wreckage of it's previous self amidst so many others that ended up this way.

Half a month Billy had been here already. Half a month of barely being able to pay bills and endlessly chasing bounties set by the Freedom City Sheriffs Department. Half a month of late nights, stake outs, successes, failures, and what seemed like an endless number of smoked cigars...Billy was beginning to get tired of it all. Back home the bounties were much larger, and the criminals much more predictable. The ones here in Freedom City were obnoxiously intelligent. Then, he supposed it was only necessary that they worked that way, when there were men with x-ray vision willing to hunt them down for nothing more than the good feeling it gave them at the end of the day.

A harder job that produced a smaller paycheck at the end of the week. In a word, it sucked.

Billy ground the heel of his boot against the concrete and shook of the cigar ash. He didn't want to track any of it into his motel room. It wasn't that he particularly cared about the carpeting, he would rather just not have it smell.

Billy unslung Marlin from his shoulder and laid it on the table that had come with the room. He undid his gun belt, and the strap that held Jericho's holster to his right thigh. He slowly removed his coat and hung it behind the door. He then hung his cowboy hat on the same hook on top of the coat.

Billy moved quickly to the dresser across the room. He stripped off the pair of goggles that hung around his neck. He dropped them on the counter. From the bucket of ice near where the goggles landed, he extracted three cubes and dropped them one by one into a small glass. Grabbing fiercely at the bottle of whiskey that stood next to the glass, he poured himself just enough to cover the cubes and took a sip. The liquid fire poured down his throat and numbed some of the tediousness of the day.

He looked up at himself in the mirror and frowned. He was tired of this "life" and it had only been half a month. There had to be something else out there for some one with his skills.

Retracing his steps, he went to the table where he had laid his guns and sat in the chair. He removed Jericho from it's holster, opened the clip and removed the eight fresh bullets. He stood them one by one on end in a row. He then proceeded to dis-assemble the gun and place it piece by piece on the table in front of him. The whole process only took him a few seconds. He could have done it with his eyes closed.

Sitting at the table Billy folded his hands. He quickly took another sip of whiskey from the glass. He sat and stared at each one of the tiny little pieces of Jericho. The gun had been such an integral part of his life for so many years, he knew each screw, spring, and small metal component of the firing mechanism like it was the back of his hand. Looking at all of the individual pieces of his gun relaxed him. It relaxed him even more to put it back together again. He felt like he was cleaning and reassembling himself.

Something from across the room caught his attention. He rose and walked over to the bed, taking the glass of whiskey with him.

He wondered how long the letter had been sitting there, and why he hadn't noticed it before. "Colt" it said. He supposed at least somebody thought that it should be him that opened it. He had better oblige.

As he read the letter, he paced the room, eventually stopping near the dresser as he read on particularly important sentence, rolling a small sip of whiskey around in his mouth. Reaching the end of the sentence, he involuntarily spit the whiskey out of his mouth in shock. Well, partner, you asked for it. He quickly crumpled the letter, dropped it on the carpet, downed the rest of the bottle of whiskey and placed the glass on the dresser, retrieving his goggles while he was there.

In a few short strides he was across the room. With practiced ease, he slung his gun belt around his waist, and strapped it to his leg. He placed his had on his head, and shrugged on his coat, slinging Marlin over his shoulder. He opened the door and was about to leave when he stopped. He turned, crossing the room in a hurry, wrapped his hand around the bottle of whiskey and was out the door in a flash.

Outside, he threw one leg over his motorcycle. He opened one of the many compartments, stowed the half - bottle of Old Tennessee Whiskey, and shut the compartment. Opening another one, he drew out an envelope. He place a few green bills into the envelope, and the key to his room as well. With an old looking pen he scribed, "Checking out." on the front of the envelope. Tucking it into his coat pocket, he stowed his cowboy hat in another compartment, and placed the goggles up over his eyes.

Colt hammered the clutch into position with his right foot, and the motorcycle thundered to life. The engine roared, itching for a chance to stretch its legs. But he held it back. He slowly rolled towards the Motel office. He tossed the envelope through an open window, and revved the engine. Hard.

Suddenly, the futuristic motorcycle roared. Lurching up on only it's back tire, it tore off into the streets of Freedom City.


Colt stood in front of the Brownstone on 83rd street in the city's West End. The address that he had read on the sheet of paper in his room had burned itself into his head.

He stood out front of the steps cowboy hat on his head and cigar in his mouth, smoke pouring out of his mouth. After a few seconds, he dropped the cigar on the ground, put it out, and began walking towards the door of the brownstone, eager to start his new life.

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All-Star looked into the glass cases. In one he saw a giant tooth as long as his forearm and twice as thick. A spiderweb crack spiraled out from the tooth's center, as if some small but massively powerful force had nearly broken it. Another held a sleek, futuristic gun, with a power cable coming out from the hilt, that was snapped and frayed at the end. The Freedom League Trophy hall held still more wonders. A large pink crystal whose facets held images of his reflection, but in each facet he was dressed differently, a sickle and hammer, a large gray reptile scale. Finally a simple burnished brass curiass, there was a jagged whole in the center. It was the only display that had a name.

"It was really just part of the costume." All-Star turned his head to find Captain Thunder standing next to him. "It wasn't Super armor or anything, but I can't recall any other time I've seen it torn." The older super stood and stared at the armor.

"It was the Centurions right," All-Star asked.

"Yeah," Thunder said. All-Star glanced down at the Large white Star across his chest. Would his costume hang in someone's display case someday, looked up at by the public? He smiled at the idea, then frowned as the thought of his death crossed his mind. As he though the lone T.V started playing the news.

"This is Cheryl Montoya, coming from downtown Freedom, where a young Hero has stopped a rampaging Robot." All-Star's stomach suddenly began to flutter. The camera panned and there he was standing with one foot on the Robot's chest. The reporter stuck her microphone in his face as they began the interview. All-Star was genuine and very proud of himself in the interview. All-Star turned at a slight chuckle from Thunder as they watched the interview. All-Star managed to release his own nervous chuckle.

"Yeah I made a great save. We don't need to watch the rest of this." As if on cue a man came charging into the scene, screaming about his ruined store. Then several others joined in. Thunder glanced at Marcus. "Alright, well I tried to destroy the Robot's optical doohickey, with a shock-wave, and maybe I took out the glass in a couple buildings on the block." Thunder's eyebrow climbed. "Come on. Think what the Robot would have done if I wasn't there?"

"Marcus your job is to protect the city not level it," Thunder said. "I told you a million times that control is better than power. That is like tackling the quarterback when you only need to knock the ball out of his hand." Marcus sighed.

"Yeah," he said. "I know, I just didn't think it would happen like that."

"Maybe you should go to Claremont for a week or two, get some training with the other young Supers." Marcus frowned. Go hang out with a bunch of High School kids? Yeah right.

"Yeah maybe," Marcus said non-committal.

"No I'm serious," Thunder added, worry creeping into his voice. "I know it is easy to forget but you aren't just a regular Joe on the street. How many other heroes do you interact with? It would do you some good." Suddenly there was an electronic chirp. Thunder glanced down at his now blinking wrist communicator. Then quickly raised it to his face.

"Thunder," All-Star recognized the voice of Daedalus. "We got a situation in Kenya ASAP."

"On my way!" Thunder responded. He looked at All-Star. "Gotta run, but think about what I said." Then like the memory of lighting in the sky, he was gone. All-Star rubbed the back of his head, as he often did when thinking. He had no desire to go to Claremont but Thunder was right. What would Centurion do. He looked back at the display case but instead of the Centurion's armor, he saw something new. It was his own costume. How did that get there? On the glass there was a letter. When had that gotten there. He could hear a man chewing his nails in his car, out on the street, how did anyone sneak up on him? He moved closer and saw that the letter had "All-Star" written on the front.

He didn't hesitate to take the letter and begin reading it, then he read it again, then a third time. Someone wanted his services? There would be other supers? Tomorrow? He looked back at the display case, to find the centurions' armor returned to its spot. He stood there pondering, for quite some time. Then he folded the letter up, twin beams of fire shot from his eyes and incinerated it. Thunder didn't have to know about this yet. He would find out when he saw it on the news, good news this time. In a flash he was out of the trophy room, through the lobby, and out the door, and streaking across the sky like a shooting star.

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Velocity looked out the window next to her seat in the back of the Pegasus space-plane as clouds sped by underneath. While she was actually able to reach speeds faster than the space-plane, for long distances it was actually rather nice to ride instead of run, especially when running would have to be over the ocean for thousands of miles.

Captain Thunder’s voice pulled her attention back to the others seated in the Pegasus. “Good work everyone.†The Freedom League leader stated to those who had accompanied him to Kenya. Deadalus was piloting the Pegasus, and Pseudo and Star Knight where also present.

Velocity gave smiled at Thunder’s praise, and then took a glance at her watch, which was still set on Eastern Standard Time. It was almost 3 AM back in Freedom City, as well as New Haven. Even the hardest partiers at her university would likely be calling it a night before she was able to get back, so the party she had to slip out of six hours ago when she got the call from Deadalus would certainly be over.

Inwardly the young woman sighed. She had been extremely thrilled and honored when Raven had extended her an offer of membership with the Freedom League a little over a year ago. While she was still honored, the thrill had faded some, particularly as it seemed that more and more of what she was called to do involved traveling around the world. While the Pegasus planes were fast, and the teleporters from the Lighthouse faster still when they could use them, the missions still seemed to take a considerable amount of time. This had resulted in missed classes, and of course, missed socializing time with her classmates.

Balancing superheroing, schoolwork and a social life had been something she had had to deal with since her Sophomore year in high school (with the schoolwork part made easier by being able to fit hours of study time into a fraction of the time thanks to superspeed). But it had also been a lot easier as she had confined most of her activities to Freedom City. She had been able to rush off to some crisis, deal with the bad guys, talk to a reporter or two, and then still get back to some high school party or whatever and enjoy being with her friends.

These days she hardly ever seemed to spend much time in Freedom City, except when she went home to see her parents as just Megan Howell.

“You okay Velocity?†Star Knight, who was sitting closest to her, asked.

The young speedster looked over at her teammate and gave a wide smile. “Yeah, just a bit tired, all these time zone changes and such.â€Â

The other woman nodded her head. “You think that can throw your internal clock off, try space travel.â€Â

Velocity chuckled. “I bet.â€Â

She spent the rest of the flight chatting with Star Knight. When the Pegasus space-plane touched down less than an hour later, Velocity and the others made their way out. After saying goodbye to the others, the speedster started off to make the run back to New Haven, when Cynthia’s voice (Freedom Hall’s robotic receptionist) came over her communicator.

“Velocity, you have a visitor.â€Â

Skidding to a halt just short of the front door, Velocity frowned slightly and looked over at Cynthia. Who the heck could be wanting to talk to me? She thought to herself. Then she remembered just how late it was, which made her even more curious.

After Cynthia directed her to the conference room where her visitor was waiting, Velocity zipped her way over, almost seeming to just appear in the room. She immediately recognized the individual sitting in one of the chairs. “Doktor Archeville.†She said with a friendly smile. “Your burning the midnight oil.â€Â

The Doktor did not seem overly surprised by her sudden appearance, setting down a cup of tea and returning her smile. “Yes, vell, I often keep strange hours, particularly vhen I am vorkink on important projects. In fact, this is vhy I hopped to speak vith you for a bit.â€Â

Suddenly Velocity was in a seat across from the good Doktor, giving him a slight shrug. “Well, given the late hour, I don’t really have anywhere to be, so I can listen for a bit.â€Â


The next day, Velocity was speeding along the freeway between New Haven and Freedom City. Glancing at her watch, she was only a few minutes from the time Doktor Archerville told her he was asking other young heroes in Freedom City to meet at a brownstone in the West End. She would easily be able to make the last few miles she had to cover in that time and arrive when some of the others should be showing up, that way she could just zip in when the door is open, and not have to stop outside and knock.

Her mind was still turning over what the Doktor had told her last night (or actually, early in the morning) and partially undecided about just what she wanted to do. Archerville had told her he was wanting to organize and fund a team of young adult heroes that would focus on criminal activity in Freedom City and had asked if she might be a part of the team. The idea of working with heroes more her own age was appealing (while she really liked and respected the others on the Freedom League, they always did seem so much older than her). The fact the team would focus on Freedom City was also appealing, as it could allow her to more easily balance heroing and her private life. But, there was still the fact she was already part of the Freedom League, and not sure she wanted to ask to step away from that just yet.

Well, she thought, if nothing else I can meet some other heroes around my own age, always good to have others you can call on if the need arises.

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A Few Nights Ago

The skies of Freedom City were overcast tonight, dark clouds rolling in from the coast, blocking out what little light shone from the sliver of moon that hung above. The commoners had long ago ended their daily business and hurried back to their homes and families, save for the criminal element that claimed the city for it's own when the darkness fell. Perched on the ledge of a skyscraper in North Freedom, a lone figure watches, listens, and waits.

He had been doing this for weeks now, though never staying in one area of the city for too long. He patrolled the streets and skylines, breaking up criminal activity and evading a host of pursuers.

Hearing something over his commlink that made his blood run cold, the figure leans forward from his crouch and tucks into a ball as he falls from the heights of the colossal building. Tumbling for nearly a hundred feet the figure straightens himself vertically, headfirst, and throws his arms out. In an instant, glider wings unfurl from his suit and he shifts his body, using the wings to soar through the night sky of Hanover to his destination: Darts Inc R&D.

Getting into the facility was easy for someone of his skill, and even though Darts Inc. security personnel was crawling all over the place, he had little trouble staying out of sight. He stealthily made his way towards the building's storage rooms, ducking behind corners to avoid patrols and maneuvering around the facing arc of surveillance cameras. Coming to a door marked "Level 5 Clearance Only", he pondered whether to bypass the security door the easy way or the hard way. Approaching footsteps decided for him, and he wrapped his mighty forearms around a guard's neck as he passed the intersection. It didn't take long for the struggling man to go limp. He slid the motionless form slowly to the ground, retrieving a Level 5 Clearance badge from the guards effects and opened the sealed door. He could have hid the man's body but he decided against it. He wouldn't be here long enough for anyone to find him... probably.

A lone figure stalked down the halls of Darts Inc. R&D. Over the radio receiver in his mask, he overheard a transmission. "This is patrol team three, we've found a body in the Level 5 storage wing. Initiate 'Security Breach protocol!'" A klaxon screamed through the building, alarm lights flashing red against the corridor walls. Wait, didn't that door back there say... Razorwing was caught off guard by a three man patrol team rounding the corner. "Intruder spotted, light him up!"

The target seemed to vanished from sight as the guards unloaded automatic fire, peppering the wall with armor piercing rounds. A split second after the confused guards ceased fire, the rear man was struck from behind and crumpled to the floor. Before his teammates could register what had just happened, they too dropped instantly from the onslaught.

Razorwing ducked below the gunfire and slammed his shoulder into the point man of the squad he had just crossed paths with. He abandoned the idea of a stealthy exit from the premises when he realized that wave after wave of armed guards were hounding him throughout the facility. Throwing the guard into one of his team mates and driving an open-palm strike under the last man's chin, he continued his mad dash for escape. He tried to open a service door at the end of the hall that would lead to the emergency exit stairwell, but the alarm had locked all of the doors in the building. I don't have time for this. Pulling a miniaturized cutting torch from his utility belt, he set to melting the locking mechanism. Seconds before the cut was finished a riot of automatic fire was heard from the corridor catty corner to his position. Then an explosion. The silhouette of a tall, broad-shouldered figure could be seen emerging from the smoke and fire, and Razorwing remembered what it was he had heard on his commlink that brought him to this place: "Hey you're alive, guess you aren't a total failure. You want to return the favor? Darts Inc. R&D. Five minutes."

"RONIN!" he screamed as he abandoned his welding. Drawing and throwing a handful of Razorblades in one fluid motion the young hero then charged the taller man, landing a solid blow to Ronin's midsection. "Ugh," he let out a breath. "That's all you got?"

Trying to follow up on the attack he spun and extended his elbow, trying to land the hit on Ronin's temple, but he saw it coming from a mile away (after all he was the one that taught him the trick), and blocked the attack with a high guard. "Come on kid, where is the hatred? I'm starting to think you don't mean it," he taunted. Grabbing the boy's wrist and twisting up then around and down, Ronin had Razorwing's arm in a joint lock. In desperation, Razorwing stomped down hard on Ronin's shin, but the pain in his arm and Ronin's armor kept the kick from breaking bone.

Another volley of gunfire came their way from down the hall through the smoke. Razorwing tried to disengage from Ronin's grasp to dodge the shots, but the villainous mercenary held firm, and a teflon-coated round struck Razorwing's shoulder, puncturing the armor. "Like old times, right?"

Ronin brought a knee into his former wards chin and the young man dropped. Kicking the service door open, the disabled locking mechanism no longer a problem, he enters the stairwell with his package secured and turned to Razorwing. "You know why you'll never beat me? You don't got nothing to fight for, hell you don't even fight for yourself. Tell the Doktor that Eric Michaels sends his regards." He pulled a grapple gun from his utility belt and ascended all the way to the rooftop exit.

Staggering to his feet , the wounded Razorwing was quickly surrounded by Darts Inc. security forces. He didn't have time to curse Ronin for tossing him to the wolves again. "Lie flat on the ground and put your hands behind your head, now!" shouted one of the guards while another came behind him and to strike him with the butt of his rifle. In the blink of an eye the young hero had disarmed the man and tossed a smoke bomb down at his feet. Diving through the open doorway, he pulled his own grapple gun from it's holster and fired a grappling line towards the rooftop exit, barely escaping Darts Inc. R&D with his life. The last thing he remembers before blacking out is leaping from the rooftop.

Becoming increasingly aware of the pain in his right shoulder, Razorwing wakes groggily. When his vision comes into focus, he is greeted by a blond man in a lab coat hovering over him. "Do you have the schematics?" Confused by the man's question, he tried to rise from the operating table when a sharp pain erupted in his shoulder. Laying back down, he ran a hand over his shoulder which had been recently bandaged. The mystery man in the lab coat must have removed the bullet and patched him up.

"You may veel a slight pinch," the man said. If he was trying to be funny or cynical or anything it was lost on Razorwing. Easing up slowly he looked around his surroundings. It looked like a sci-fi movie set and a large screen was replaying the footage taken from the surveillance cameras in Darts Inc. R&D. "You und I have much to talk about, meine junger freund."

After a lengthy conversation the two men came to an agreement of sorts. After learning that the young man had dealings with Ronin, Doktor Archeville offered to provide resources and protection in exchange for whatever information Razorwing could pass on about Ronin and other villainous groups. The deal was too good to pass up, and he truly wanted to turn over a new leaf and be done with the constant running. Plus some backup couldn't hurt.


Pulling onto 83rd Avenue on his disguised Razorcycle, Kristian parks his bike on the road next to the trio of brownstones. Loosening the strap of his duffel bag he shifts the carryall onto his good shoulder and heads for the door.

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There wasn't too much for Lynn to pack; until she knew the pet situation at the new place, her friend Kiki agreed to take care of her three cats, which meant everything else she owned fit neatly into a duffel bag. The letter from Doc was a godsend; Lynn was getting restless crashing on her co-worker's couch, and though Kiki said she could stay as long as she needed, the young crimefighter sensed she was starting to wear out her welcome.

A new team, already? Is it too soon?

The Brownstone Steps

The door opens, and a beautiful petite brunette stands before the new arrivals; she wears New Jersey Devils pajamas, a pair of slippers, and is enjoying a large bowl of Apple Jacks. She jerks her head in greeting and smiles at the gathered faces.

“Sup, guys! I’m Lynn, aka Grimalkin. Welcome to the party.â€Â

munch munch munch

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Ahh, perfect timing. Velocity thought to herself as she approached the address Doc had given her and the door was opened by a young woman.

With a slight acceleration, she covered the last few hundred feet and took advantage of the open door to zip inside, leaving a small gush of wind at her passing. Looping around and coming to a halt just inside, she looked over at Grimalkin as her brown ponytail swished up from the sudden halt. She was just in time to hear Grim introduce herself.

“Thanks for getting the door Grim. I do hate having to wait.†She said with a wide smile.

“Hi, I’m Velocity.†She said as she focused on those coming in the door.

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As the door opened to reveal the beyond casual Grimalkin, Blink became aware of the others coming up behind her.

Sloppy and careless. If this is a trap, you've already let yourself get hemmed in.

Dressed in loose fitting dark cargo pants and a skin tight blank tank top, Blink wasn't exactly dressed for a formal occasion. However, the woman in front of her was not what she had expected at all. Nor was any mention of a party. This was supposed to be some kind of business arrangement, a paying job, not some kind of slumber party. Forcing herself to relax out of a ready stance, she nodded to the girl while pulling out the mysterious letter. The address was right, this was the place.

She was about to step in when a blur of motion flashed past her. Another woman seemed to appear as if out of thin air in front of her. Nadia blinked rapidly, reminding herself that it wasn't likely that she was the only one with powers at this meeting. The girl in front of her announced herself as Velocity, obviously sticking to code names. So there was some amount of secrecy to be involved. Very well.

"Thank you... Lynn," she said stepping into the foyer of the surprisingly large house. "I'm Blink, I think I am expected, but am beginning to doubt the intent."

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Colt slowly approached the front door. He felt something breeze past him, but wouldn't find out what it was until later. Like most of everything else he didn't understand about this world, he casually took note of what was happening, convinced that it would likely be explained to him later.

"Why hello there, little lady." He said to Grim as he reached the front door. He pulled the cigar from his mouth, dropped it on the front steps, and ground it beneath his heel. "Certainly nice ta see you again." He gave her a smile.

Colt turned to the two other girls as he entered the house. "Reckon I don't believe we've met." He tipped his hat at them. "Name's Billy. But y'all c'n call me Colt if'n ya want."

"Thank you... Lynn," she said stepping into the foyer of the surprisingly large house. "I'm Blink, I think I am expected, but am beginning to doubt the intent."

"Not sure if there's much ta doubt." Colt responded to Blink, "My letter was clear enough, at least. Though I ain't certain 'bout who sent it right yet."

Colt moved further into the house, looking around and trying to take in all the details of his surroundings. "Hmm," He mused, "Reckon I never seen the inside'a one'a these places before."

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"Perhaps, I should say that if the letter is to be believed," she paused trying to come up with something less offensive to say then the thoughts crossing through her mind, "then I was expecting some kind of... group. A very special group that would lead to some employment. This doesn't quite match other such offers that have come to me in the past."

In the past she would have expected someone in a crisp suit opening the door, leading her through a series of false fronts and furnishings to a back room, or cellar. There a certain number of hard faced men and women would be checking weapons, gear, and other equipment. There would be little talking, other than details, and certainly little in the way of creature comforts. The employer would come, give out intelligence, maps, details, and objectives, and they would move out. While the letter had intimated that this would be a more long term assignment, she still expected at least some of the trappings of her para-military brethren. Slippers and cereal didn't quite fit into her expectations. Still, a job was a job, and she had no idea who any of these people were. She'd stay close lipped until she could figure out the nature of this gig.

At least she could rule out mob hit. A slight grin revealed itself at the corner of her mouth, their slipper clad greeter was as far from a mob hit man as she could imagine.

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Jack hung back long enough to let the others enter the building before he approached the door. Not like I'm expecting it to explode or anything, but still... Catching the swinging door with his booted foot before it could close all of the way, he slipped inside. The swordsman immediately came face to face with a small woman with a bowl of cereal.

"Nice, uh, slippers," Jack observed, moving in an arc to take a step backwards into the building. "More of a Leafs guy, myself, but with the opening they're having... Am I overdressed? 'Cause I missed the BYOPJs part of the invite. I'm like that, though. That could just be me," he rambled absently as he looked around the interior of the brownstone.

A few step further inside, he spotted a familiar figure. "Colt! Hey, my fellow unusually-large-coat-wearing... guy." He moved over to the cowboy. "So, how's Freedom treating you? Super wacky fun? 'Cause I'm guessing super wacky fun." Looking about some more he saw the dark haired woman and what was unmistakably the Freedom Leaguer Velocity. Glancing back and forth between the three women, Jack nudged Colt in the side, murmuring, "Woah. Good team-up." Sweeping one side of his coat out as though it were a cape, he bowed melodramatically. "Ladies..." he greeted as he rose with a roguish grin.

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“Hey Velo, hey Colt. She gave the cowboy a friendly wink. "Nice to see you guys, and meet the rest of you.â€Â

Off of Blink's look, she peers down at her colorful jammies.

“What, the outfit?â€Â

She puts her free hand on her hip and scowls cartoonishly at Blink.

“Are you saying I look less than professional in this? Fine, be that way, I can fix it.â€Â

Grim’s form is briefly encased in swirling pale mist, which clears to reveal her working clothes: a skintight suit of black and midnight blue leather, a black domino mask and fingerless gloves. She does a slow spin to show off the new look.

“That better? Sleek and magnifique, right? I didn’t want to flaunt it when I had the door open back there.â€Â

She lifts the giant bowl to her lips with both hands and loudly slurps down the last of her sugary milk.

"Nice, uh, slippers," Jack observed, moving in an arc to take a step backwards into the building. "More of a Leafs guy, myself, but with the opening they're having... Am I overdressed? 'Cause I missed the BYOPJs part of the invite. I'm like that, though. That could just be me."

The tiny Jersey native waves her hand dismissively.

“Hey, I don’t wanna hear about your thirteen championships, Leafhead; my team plays with heart, okay? I’ll take my three over your thirteen any day!†She laughs as she sets the bowl and spoon on a sideboard.

“Here, let’s get out of the hallway; I’ve only had a chance to check out a bit of the joint, but it’s right out of an episode of Cribs. Follow me!â€Â

She leads her new teammates down a short hallway into a nicely-sized living room, complete with working fireplace; as she walks ahead of the group, her leathers peel away in tatters of mist, leaving behind…Scooby-Doo pajamas :roll: Grim deftly leaps onto one of three sofas, flipping gracefully in midair to land with a satisfying thump. Bare feet dangling over the armrest, she grins back at the others.

“Pretty awesome, huh?â€Â

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When Jack entered the room and greeted him, Colt responded, "Good ta see ya, partner. I finally got that whole mess with ma bike sorted out. The fellas at the 'League gave me a set'a papers and everythin'."

"Can't be blamin' people fer their style, now, Blink. Maybe she just..." Colt stalled out as Grim pulled a complete outfit change. "Wow. Well, never mind what I was gonna say. Ain't no point now."

Colt went along with the rest of the group during the tour. "This place is right pretty. Reckon it could use a little more furniture, though. Didn't the letter say somethin' 'bout there bein seven of us? Where're the others at?"

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All-Star finally touched down in front of the building. Was this really it? He saw the door closing as a caped figure slipped in. Doubt it was a coincidence. He approached the door and came in after Jack. He didn't really recognize anyone.

"Hey," he said to the general crowd. "Is this some sort of super hero mixer?" All-Star stood in the doorway his hands on his hips. The brunette was pretty smoking, as were the other two. His ear caught a strange accent and he glanced around at Colt. "Your that guy form the Carnival." He added.

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Colt slowly approached the front door. He felt something breeze past him, but wouldn't find out what it was until later. Like most of everything else he didn't understand about this world, he casually took note of what was happening, convinced that it would likely be explained to him later.

"Why hello there, little lady." He said to Grim as he reached the front door. He pulled the cigar from his mouth, dropped it on the front steps, and ground it beneath his heel. "Certainly nice ta see you again." He gave her a smile.

Colt turned to the two other girls as he entered the house. "Reckon I don't believe we've met." He tipped his hat at them. "Name's Billy. But y'all c'n call me Colt if'n ya want."

Velocity looked at the others as they made their way in. She recognized Colt, having met him recently at the Carnival, though he would not recognize her in costume. “Nice to meet you Colt.†She said with a cheerful smile.

"Perhaps, I should say that if the letter is to be believed," she paused trying to come up with something less offensive to say then the thoughts crossing through her mind, "then I was expecting some kind of... group. A very special group that would lead to some employment. This doesn't quite match other such offers that have come to me in the past."

The speedster then focused on the other woman who seemed a bit unsure about being there. “Well, you’ve found the right place Blink, I’d say we are indeed a very special group.†She replied with a wide smile.

A few step further inside, he spotted a familiar figure. "Colt! Hey, my fellow unusually-large-coat-wearing... guy." He moved over to the cowboy. "So, how's Freedom treating you? Super wacky fun? 'Cause I'm guessing super wacky fun." Looking about some more he saw the dark haired woman and what was unmistakably the Freedom Leaguer Velocity. Glancing back and forth between the three women, Jack nudged Colt in the side, murmuring, "Woah. Good team-up." Sweeping one side of his coat out as though it were a cape, he bowed melodramatically. "Ladies..." he greeted as he rose with a roguish grin.

Another man followed closely behind Colt, somewhat similarly dressed as he greeted Grim and then Colt before facing Velocity and Blink, giving them a bow. “Nice to meet you.†She replied, though she realized he had not given a name. “I’m Velocity.â€Â

"Hey," he said to the general crowd. "Is this some sort of super hero mixer?" All-Star stood in the doorway his hands on his hips. The brunette was pretty smoking, as were the other two. His ear caught a strange accent and he glanced around at Colt. "Your that guy form the Carnival." He added.

It was then that yet another person arrived, this one looking much more the part of a hero. “It’s something like that.†She speedster replied with a smile. “Your All-Star right? I’ve heard Cap and Lady Liberty talking about you.â€Â

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Jack leaned against a nearby table as Grim shifted her outfit not once but twice. "Well, that's gotta be a time saver. So much for supers putting their pants on one leg at a time like everyone else." He made note when Velocity mentioned Blink's name, then gave a good-natured smirk when she introduced herself. "Yeah, I know. You're sort of a big deal, huh?" He placed his hands far apart, as if indicating distance, then drew them closer together. "I'm more of a think globally, act locally kinda guy. Jack of all Blades. Friends just call me Jack." The swashbuckler shrugged. "Well, friends and people looking to save time."

He suppressed a wince when All-Star arrived. It's the guy who knocked 'Head's block off, he groaned inwardly. For a moment he thought the broad shouldered man had recognized him, but realized that he was talking to Colt instead. He's never seen me in costume, Jack reassured himself. Small favours. All-Star wasn't exactly his favourite person, but more than that Jack was embarrassed by his overreaction at the carnival's haunted house. Second chance at a first impression for both of us.

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Well if one thing could be determined, these hero types were certainly a cheerful bunch. There was nothing but smiles and greetings all around, which was just about the complete opposite of what Blink was currently feeling. Every instinct in her was screaming to port out quickly and be done with this business. Although, if there was one thing to be said, at least none of them had arrested her in the past; that certainly would have been awkward. Blink followed the group as they made their way into what looked like a sparsely finished, but rather expansive, living area. She kept her back close to the wall and tried her best not to look like she was trying to be ready for one of them to slap cuffs on her wrists.

Replying to Velocity she said, "I suppose it is... it's just usually that the people I deal with are a lot more reserved... and military. I think I just need to adjust my thinking a bit."

Of course she had already insulted the one named Grim, who appeared to be some kind of illusionist, or shape changer. Either way the trick with the clothes was quite a useful thing, "I meant no insult Grimalkin, you are just not who or what I expected. I assume you are here for your talents as well. I seek no quarrel with you."

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All-Star flashed his most winning smile. "Ah you've heard of me?" he asked. "Really The Captain and Lady Liberty?" He beamed, then his expression clouded with concern. "They're aren't still mad about the thing with the space moles right? Cause I think I cleaned up the mess pretty well." He rubbed his chin ignoring the others. "So you're Velocity," he added as he walked along. "Johnny Rocket seems to think you're something special." He crossed his arms. The tone was lighthearted but there was an undercurrent of challenge.

He didn't see what Blink was apologizing for who could help but be surprised?He looked around. "So you're Colt, Blink, Grim and ..." He paused at Jack.

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Knocking once, Kristian turned the doorknob and entered the brownstone. He could hear talking coming from down the hall. "Hello?" he called out while making his way towards the conversation.

He instantly recognized All-Star and the cowboy from previous interactions in Hanover and the carnival in Parkside, respectively. He had been in full gear when he met up with All-Star, but he was just plain old Kristian when he mistook the gunman for an assassin.

From beneath the hood of his black and white skeleton sweater he scanned the assembled young adults, sizing each one up, trying to gain a measure of their abilities. Might as well get this part over with.

Lowering his battered duffel bag to the floor of the living room and stuffing his hands into the pockets of his hoody he spoke in a low, soft voice.

"Hey, I'm Kristian."

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Jack's eyebrow twitched almost imperceptibly at All-Star's abrasive attitude. At least Lady MacParanoid over there is polite. When the caped man gave the swordsman an appraising look, clearly expecting an introduction, Jack snapped to attention and saluted smartly. "Captain Stupendous Magnifico, Scion of a Thousand Stars, Son of Admiral Awesomestien, Slayer of Chupacabras, long may his name sound in the hallowed halls of my people." He gave All-Star a grave look. "Far have I traveled to meet the one called All-Star. We face a terrible enemy, and our only hope is a weapon powered by pure ego. You are our only hope." The swashbuckler leaned back against the table. "That said, I also answer to Jack," he drawled, deadpan.

Before All-Star could respond, a seventh person arrived. "Hey, new guy! Well, so much for the kegger; no way you're legal."

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All-Star frowned, and scratched his head. "Wow," he said. "That is a lot of names. I like Jack though nice and simple." This guy seemed to be agitated, could it be meeting all the new people? Well Thunder had told him most heroes were a little eccentric, clearly he was one of the brooding types.

He looked at the new arrival, a skinny kid by the looks of it. "Kristian?," All-Star said giving a welcoming smile. "Nice to meet you. Are we all caught up? Cause I thought I read something about a super team. This place looks more like a bed and breakfast." All-Star hoped he wouldn't have to depend on the feather weight in a fight.

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"Now that is a good question." Jack looked around. "I get the feeling we're maybe not all on the same page here. I didn't get a whole lot more that time and place, frankly." He turned to face the couch where Grim was lounging. "How about it, Magical Girl Sailor Jersey? Seems like you've got the inside scoop. Dish."

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